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Crime, Law and Justice
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Lawmakers Debate Whether Grand Juries Should Be Recorded

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Joe Wolf
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Flickr - tinyurl.com/z8o86qr

Oregon lawmakers are once again debating whether testimony in front of grand juries should be recorded. It's not the first time the proposal has surfaced.

Margaret Carter said she can remember a debate during her first legislative session over whether grand jury testimony should be recorded. That was back in 1985.

The Portland Democrat resigned from the legislature six years ago but returned to advocate for the proposal in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"All this bill is asking for is transparency,” Carter said. “And God knows the people of America and certainly in Oregon need to feel good about its criminal justice system."

Most states that use grand juries to determine probable cause already record testimony. A spokesman for the Oregon District Attorneys Association said the group supports the general idea, but has concerns about the cost and logistics.

Marion Country District Attorney Walt Beglau said recording and archiving testimony is more complicated than simply turning on a tape recorder.

"We run grand jury five days a week in Marion County all day, and sometimes we're running two," Beglau said. "We need the space, capacity and (employees) to manage that in a very effective way."

The committee did not take immediate action on either of the bills that would require the recording of grand juries.